Inside Kathy Whitworth’s iconic career as LPGA legend and ‘most winning’ female golfer in history dies at 83

The most successful golfer in history, Kathy Whitworth, has died at the age of 83.

With 88 wins, Whitworth had the most wins of any player on a single professional tour.

Kathy Whitworth, the most successful female golfer, has died at the age of 83


Kathy Whitworth, the most successful female golfer, has died at the age of 83Photo credit: Getty
Whitworth's partner confirmed the golfer died


Whitworth’s partner confirmed the golfer died “suddenly” on Christmas EvePhoto credit: Getty

Her LPGA Tour victories spanned nearly a quarter century and she became the first woman to earn $1 million in a career.

Whitworth’s death on Christmas Eve was confirmed by her longtime partner.

Her cause of death is unknown but Bettye Odle, her partner, said it was sudden as she was celebrating with family and friends.

“Kathy left this world as she lived her life – loving, laughing and making memories,” Odle said in a statement.

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The first of Whitworth’s 88 titles was at the Kelly Girls Open in July 1962.

She won six majors over the course of her career and broke Mickey Wright’s record of 82 coaching wins when she captured Lady Michelob in the summer of 1982.

Her last win was at the 1985 United Virginia Bank Classic.

“Winning never gets old,” she once said.

The only major honor Whitworth didn’t receive was the coveted US Women’s Open

“I would have traded it to be the first to make a million to win the Open, but it was a consolation that took some of the sting out of not winning,” she said in 1981.

Fellow golfer Annika Sorenstam, dubbed the Whitworth LPGA’s all-time winning leader and “Total Class Act,” who will be greatly missed.

“Thanks for raising the bar Kathy,” she wrote.

Whitworth was named AP Athlete of the Year in 1965 and 1967, defeating Wimbledon singles champion Billie Jean King.

In 1982 she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

“I think Mickey had the best swing and was probably the best golfer,” Betsy Rawls said in an interview with Golf Digest. “But Kathy was the best player of the game I’ve ever seen.”

Despite being the “most victorious” female golfer in history, Whitworth said she’s not worried about breaking records.

“I don’t think about the legacy of 88 tournaments,” she said.

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“I did it because I wanted to win, not to set a record or a goal that no one else could surpass. I’m no great oddity. I was just lucky to be so successful. What I’ve done to become a better player doesn’t make me a better person.

“When people ask me how I want to be remembered, I think it will be good enough if people remember me at all.”

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